A couple of years ago, I joined the call to bring back cult 80s British TV series Kick Start to our screens. Hosted by ex-children's television presenter Peter Purvis, the popular show tested the skill of accomplished trials bike riders on obstacles ranging from a VW Beetle to slippery logs to near-vertical walls of rock. Such a return today, however, may not necessarily mean the once-familiar sound of the two-stroke engine clattering through the home theater system. After seven years at the helm of French trials bike manufacturer Scorpa, Philippe Aresten has broken loose to market his own Electric Motion trials bike.
Some three years in research and development, Aresten's EM 5.7 2011 model was claimed to be the first mass-produced electric trials bike designed for both competition and leisure (a removable seat can be installed for the latter). The new 2012 model has gone through some technical and design modifications, including a stronger and lighter frame, some body design tweaks and increased power and torque. The front fork and rear suspension also differ from the 2011 version, superior clamps have been used, the brake master cylinder protection has been upgraded, and the total weight has been reduced to just 70 kg (154 pounds).
The electric trials bike's power comes from a brushless DC motor developed especially for the EM 5.7 and a custom-built, removable Li-Pol battery pack contained within an aluminum shell. The total weight of the latter (including cables, protection and measurement systems and the BMS) is 11 kg (24 pounds). It can be charged while sat in the bike or taken out and plugged into the supplied charger, and takes about two hours from full discharge. Riders can check status courtesy of an onboard LED charge level indicator.
An electronic clutch lever on the left of the handlebar and twist-grip throttle to the right allow for precision control over the power delivered by the motor, and a security switch to the top left works with a wrist-worn magnetic cap to secure the bike in the event of a fall. There's also a button positioned to the left that activates regen/electric braking.
The low-maintenance EM 5.7 has three operating modes to match the bike's performance with the rider's ability. The Novice mode has reduced speed, torque and power for beginners. Trek is chosen for leisure riding and offers decent power, torque and speed while also having a range of between 2 and 2.5 hours. The Trial mode is for the pros and comes equipped with two settings of its own, chosen using a button placed on the handlebar. Map 1 is designed for soft trial riding or wet conditions, and Map 2 is for hard trial/dry conditions.
Aresten told us that the cost of the EM 5.7 varies from country to country, but reckons that "the price is the same as a trials bike with a gas engine, not more not less